Friday, 20 January 2017


heart-shaped box: as part of its forgotten formats series, Ars Technica explores the history of the 8-track cartridge and its links to the Lear jet and Kurt Cobain

mall-walkers: sculpt one’s figure among the sculptures with a workout at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, via the always aesthetic Nag on the Lake

good fences make good neighbours: social media entrepreneur, eschewing privacy, sues hundreds to keep his Hawaiian estate pristine, via Boing Boing

road to nowhere: celebrating architectural fossils preserved despite apparent lack of historical value

assuage party: conservatives members of a Danish archipelago volunteer to host rumoured but inevitable US-Russo summit

yavin base: 1977 theatre audience reacting to Star Wars’ trench run

superior orders

I wonder how promptly the Chain of Command portrait wall will be updated to reflect Dear Leader and his minions, surely a sore and unenviable task. I bet like there will be incentivised snitching in place to catch those government bureaus out of compliance—like Domino’s Pizza ran when they updated their logo and encouraged the public to report on franchises still using the old shingle with vouchers for a free pizza. I wonder what the prize might be for ratting-out your co-workers for dragging their feet.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

the bicameral xor

One house of the legislature of the US state of Georgia passed a bill in February 1953 to make “andor” the legal successor to the awkward conjunction and/or—the new term signifying all the meanings and nuance championed by the former including “either, or, both, and or or, and and or.” The proposal however was struck down by the upper house and “andor” perished ignobly on the senate floor. Xor is the so-called “exclusive or” in logical operations that only holds true when conditions differ: the law passed one chamber but failed in the other. I wonder if there has been any linguistic lobby for the novel ways that intervening bit of punctuation, the slash, has taken on.

zener cards

Among the massive cache of documents recently declassified by the US Central Intelligence Agency one can find glosses of the research programme into remote viewing and the identification and recruitment efforts of psychic warriors. One such mental pugilist was Uri Geller—who was a bit taken aback one hearing the news that the project called Stargate was now in the public domain, considering that studies were still on-going, but he could corroborate at least some of his special assignments, like standing outside the Soviet Embassy building in Mexico City and trying to erase floppy disks telepathically or arresting the heartbeat of a hapless pig in preparation for larger prey, in addition to him being asked to produce clairvoyant sketches.

the day the earth stood still

It’s quite a coincidence that it’s almost exactly to the day five years ago, the internet went off-line in solidarity and protest to the US Congress censorship bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that would have place grave strictures on the open internet and free-exchange. By resisting, the people eventually won and Congress relented but the victory came at a high costs and we have to remain ever vigilant—hopefully, we are not so inured to creeping change that we haven’t quietly surrendered those freedoms in the intervening years. Liberties are always at peril and we ought to be vocal and owe it to ourselves to be our best and truest selves, but perhaps this is not the occasion for a black-out, as after the shut-down, we might not be allowed to come back on-line.